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Document assembly choices for law departments

In December 2005, Marc Lauritsen and his colleagues assembled the document assembly engines that they then knew about. Just over a year later, these references may help law departments that would like to try out the genre of software. All that follows is quoted, but I have shortened some entries.

HotDocs from LexisNexis has the biggest market presence and most developed ecosystem. It has an excellent online knowledgebase, email discussion list, and consultant community. HotDocs offers the best tool for automating graphical forms, and has a full-featured Web implementation. The company continues to release significant new versions each year.

GhostFill from Korbitec in South Africa [is] integrated into the Amicus Attorney case management software, branded as Amicus Assembly. It also underlies the new and improved construction contract software from the American Institute of Architects. GhostFill has a programmer-friendly object-oriented and open architecture, making it very easy to add functionality. It offers great flexibility for custom integration, and can be easily hooked up to databases out of the box.

DealBuilder from Business Integrity is purely Web-based on the user end and offers an AI-based authoring environment that reduces the need for traditional template programming. Precedents that are marked up in ways intelligible to substantive experts can often be converted automatically into interactive “masters.”

Rapidocs also originated in the United Kingdom. It includes innovative features that optimize it for ecommerce applications.

Exari (formerly SpeedPrecedent), from SpeedLegal, is a web-based solution with a strong commitment to open systems and standards, especially XML.

QShift from Ixio Corporation is an internet subscription-based application; I think of it as a clause manager on steroids. It has powerful underlying technologies that can take it in many different directions.

D3 (Dynamic Document Drafting) from Microsystems has broken new ground in terms of tight integration with Microsoft Word (2003 or better). While possibly weak on some of the more advanced aspects of high-end document automation such as multi-level repeats, D3 includes styles management, group security, and collaborative authoring features that aren’t seen in most other products.

Perfectus, ActiveDocs, and Pathagoras also deserve attention.

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